Editorial: Free community college is a giant leap in the right direction

Image by Michael Fleshman via Flickr

The Beacon Editorial Staff


For a country that prides itself in giving everyone an equal opportunity to succeed, there hasn’t been much done recently by our government to make this a reality. However with the introduction of President Obama’s plan to offer free community college throughout the nation, there finally seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel that is student debt. Students everywhere voiced their extreme appreciation for this measure by flooding multiple social media outlets with praise for this executive order, showing the country and world how big of an impact this proposal can have. If this resolution passes and is signed into law, not only will we see an increase of college graduates but we also give hope to disenfranchised students who never had a chance before to pursue the American dream.

It’s important to note how bad things are for students in the current system: According to the Huffington Post , 30 percent of students, including upper and middle class, drop out of highschool and never pursue a degree. The national average of student debt due to loans is approximately over $20,000 even if they did complete high school and got accepted into a public university, according to studentdebtprojection.com. These statistics published by different researchers and news outlets do vary from state to state and change by a small margin every year but it is still very disturbing how much the system in place does not work in favor of the students. We often hear about motivated and hard working students from impoverished neighborhoods that attend prestigious universities on scholarships breaking all preconceived notions of success. Imagine, however, if we lived in a society where everyone has the same access to quality education. Think of all the students who aren’t necessarily in the top percentage of their class but could still benefit from going to trade school or completing an associate degree in an effort to become more marketable for employers. By doing this, those who never believed they could rise above tough circumstances like poverty now become part of our work force which also helps the state of our economy.

Passing this plan also helps students that are currently going through the struggle of paying for their own tuition. Usually, most people decide to attend community college first in an attempt to save some money on credit hours and then transfer over to finish the remainder of their track. If the first half of a person’s education was virtually free, we would see so many more students applying to big universities that weren’t affordable before and we would eventually see a larger amount of people graduating at a faster rate.

The history of our University saw an initial student body population of students who were completing their third or fourth year of their degree after attending junior college. Considering how this might affect our University personally, we might see history repeating itself, leaving the general student population being comprised of individuals completing their degrees after having attended community college for free. This would go against the University’s general goal of having students go through our programs for all four years.

The proposal certainly is a solution in terms of the accessibility of education for most, but it could also act as a hinderance in the University’s mission. In the grander scheme of things, accessibility to education for everyone trumps one university’s goals of profiting from student attendance.

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